Friday, August 31, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Well, at least now we know why Hereafter was such a crappy movie.
2) Since everyone is talking about Clint's speech and not Romney's acceptance, perhaps Eastwood instinctively knows he's really a liberal and took the opportunity to put the final nail in the coffin of Mitt Romney's candidacy. *draws finger across throat*
3) Y'know, we almost made it through an entire week without a gun-toting yahoo taking out a mass of people.
4) Why Obama could still take the white vote, too. Short answer: Paul Ryan was the wrong VP pick. Republicans used to be long on talent. I wonder what happened? It's almost like there was a party purge or something.
5) While you were watching Tampa, the White House was watching Vienna.
8) But really. There's no global warming! Ignore the desert virus spreading across the Southwest!
9) Oddly, there's some truth to this, altho I don't think it's what the study's authors intended. Americans eat so many empty carbohydrates that even just backing down to a normal level will assist in weight loss. When I examined my eating patterns and realized, from a breakfast muffin to the bread on my sandwich to the roll with dinner, just how many empty calories I was eating, I stopped. It was the equivalent of a cup of sugar and a dollop of salt, neither of which do my body any good.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Obama's Republican Convention Bounce

A startling column was released this morning by Nate Silver:

Polls that are published during the party conventions can be anticlimactic, representing old news since they won’t fully reflect the effects of the convention bounce. And none of the surveys that came out on Wednesday were that newsworthy to begin with – although there was one, in Ohio, that had encouraging news for Barack Obama, and another, in Nevada, that was slightly favorable for Mitt Romney.

The Ohio survey was conducted by the automated-polling firm Gravis Marketing, which had Mr. Obama ahead of Mr. Romney by less than 1 full percentage point.

A one-point lead isn’t much, and Mr. Obama has gotten some better numbers than that in Ohio. So why does this qualify as good news for him? Because this firm has had Republican-leaning results in the other states that it has polled, putting Mr. Romney up by 2 points in Florida, 1 point in Colorado and 17 points in Missouri, making it several points more Republican-leaning than the consensus of surveys in those states. Once the model adjusts for the firm’s “house effect,” it treats Mr. Obama’s nominal 1-point lead as being the equivalent of a 4- or 5-point lead instead. Thus, Mr. Obama’s chances of winning Ohio rose somewhat based on the survey.

Now, his first point, about polling during conventions, is an interesting one, and one I'd dispute. The Romney camp has played up the convention heading into Tampa and if anything, should have received a pre-bounce from the naming of Paul Ryan as Veep candidate and the twin stump speeches the two have delivered practically in unison.

That Ohio has shown itself inured to the bullshit says a lot about this poll.

Here's why:

By two-to-one (44% to 22%), the public says that raising taxes on incomes above $250,00o would help the economy rather than hurt it, while 24% say this would not make a difference. Moreover, an identical percentage (44%) says a tax increase on higher incomes would make the tax system more fair, while just 21% say it would make the system less fair.

Interestingly, the country is about split between the two men with respect to who would do a better job of handling the economy in the next four years-- Romney 48%, Obama 44% (MoE 3.9%)

So that's the box Romney has painted himself into. He can bash the President over the economy, but that flies in the face of public perception. He already has a monumental task in front of him with regards to firming up his own image, so to try to juggle both of these balls is near impossible.

This is why he's been hesitant to really go after President Obama on the issue of jobs and the economy, which would normally be a strong point for the challenger in a lackluster nation. People get that Obama was handed a heaping plate of crap, one that's only been piled higher and deeper by Republican mayors and governors across the nation who have gone out of their way to destroy jobs in the public sector.

Add to that an openly hostile Republican House, and few people can seriously blame Obama for the jobs problem. He's tried. He's been, if anything, too cooperative with the Republicans...remember the debt ceiling agreement that Weaker Boener hammered out with the President? Turned out, Tanned Man couldn't even deliver a pizza.

It's safe to say, I think, that the Romney candidacy, quixotic from the outset, is floundering on the reefs of common sense

In one respect, we should probably be grateful to Mitt Romney's ego in running in 2012, because it saves us the trouble of ever having a Romney presidency, with all its concomittant screw ups. He won't run in 2016, and we can go out and destroy Chris Christie's political career in that election.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Thing Is For Certain


(CBS/AP) NEW ORLEANS - Hurricane Isaac knocked out power, flooded Gulf-front roads and pushed water over the top of an 18-mile section of a rural Louisiana levee before dawn Wednesday as it began a slow, wet slog across the state with a newly fortified New Orleans in its path.

Wind gusts and sheets of rain pelted the nearly empty streets of New Orleans, where people watched the incoming Isaac from behind levees that were strengthened after the much stronger Hurricane Katrina hit seven years ago to the day.

Water pushed by the large and powerful storm flooded over an 18-mile stretch of one levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans, flooding some homes in a thinly populated area. No injuries were reported.

"When this is over, I think we need to check the wind speeds because I lost a good portion of my roof, my fence is down, and water is blowing through the sockets in my house from the back wall," Parish President Billy Nungesser said in a phone call to CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL. "That only happened in Katrina."

If ever there was a divine warning to hubris and calumny, it is this: that Isaac devastated the same coastline and regions that Katrina did, just seven years ago.

I don't need to tell you, the reader, of the exposure to the Bush management style that created: bungling patricianism, arms-length leadership, and a blatant disregard for the suffering of working class Americans (oh, happy birthday, Senator McCain!).

This is happening at the precipice of a change in Republican party politics. That party is at a crossroads: will they capitulate to the haranguing Teabaggers or begin to pull away from them? If I was asked that a month ago, I'd say they're all in, but in the past week, there have been many pieces, some from unusual sources, saying "Basta!"

Perhaps they aren't clarion calls for a party purge-- which would make for great television, since that's what the Teabaggers want, too-- but they are an acknowledgement that things have gone south..literally...for the party born of rebellion against the Whigs.

Naturally, the interjection of Isaac will dampen down the proceedings, and distract the viewing audience from the message the RNC has crafted. Imagine flooding on the scale of Katrina, juxtaposed with all those bright, shining faces in Tampa. The memories of 2005 loom large. The RNC would not want to be seen as smiling through a tragedy.
Too, Mitt's message on the economy, which he will have to craft carefully-- devoted family man who's destroyed millions of American families to add another dollar to his Cayman bank account will somehow find jobs for twenty million Americans-- is a difficult enough message for most Americans when they don't have the tragic spectacle of people surviving on rooftops to switch over to the instant he loses their attention.
And, of course, President Obama will have no choice but to fly down to the Gulf coast to inspect the damage and look all Presidential in doing so.
For his part, Obama has played this summer nearly perfectly but in fairness, he's had to do practically nothing: an agreement with Israel there, buying up surplus agricultural products from drought-ravaged farmers here, and just generally keep the focus on Mitt's myriad faux pas.
When your adversary is drowning, don't throw him a life preserver. Good political advice.
Mark Halperin, who usually talks out of his ass (and in this instance, mostly did) posted one piece of cogent advice in Time Magazine this week:

With Mitt Romney locked in a tough fight for the White House, Republican strategists inside and outside his campaign are mentally composing a long to-do list for the former Massachusetts governor to bolster his chances on Election Day ...

Foremost on that list: Make an impression. Romney must introduce himself to the wider electorate during the convention in Tampa with a killer acceptance speech that keeps voters and the press talking all the way through his rival's oration in Charlotte, N.C.

As noted, that's going to be next to impossible with Isaac churning up the levees of New Orleans and environs. Even if Romney was capable of a "killer acceptance speech," with teleprompter, no doubt, it will get lost in translation.

One more thing: Romney may have gotten lucky with the storm in one respect. The introduction speech by Ann Romney contained this gem.

He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance.

Talking about when she and Mitt met. So her raison d'etre for a Romney Presidency is, she didn't get date-raped? Wow. Simply wow.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Actual Interview

There is a thing. It's called "reporting". This is a thing that so very rarely happens in America these days.
There is a thing. It is called "transcribing." This is a thing that happens far too often in America these days, even at places where known journalism is said to occur.
This is an example of "reporting": (bonus video at link)

Christie said in a recent speech that “you can’t lead by being a mystery, you can’t lead by being an enigma,’’ but denied that he was referring to Romney’s unwillingness to disclose more of his personal financial information.

“I don’t think he’s been a mystery and an enigma in terms of what he stands for and what he believes,’’ Christie said. “I think you can always look back in retrospect and maybe say ‘I would’ve done this or that differently,' but in the end do I think any American voter is going to say, ‘I’m not voting for him?’ No. I think they’re much more concerned about mounting debt and deficit and the other issues we’re talking about, (like) joblessness, and those are things that are going to decide this election.’’

In less than five minutes, Matt Lauer made Governor Short Round squirm to any number of comments he's made in the past, and made Gov. Sammiches (Chris Christie, R-KrispyKreme) sound like a blithering idiot.

Not that Christie is a font of intellectual wisdom, but he can put two sentences together, even off the cuff.

As an example, here's Christie's defense of Mitt Romney's recent birther "joke".

“I think if he had to do it over again, he wouldn’t make the joke,’’ Christie told Matt Lauer on TODAY Tuesday. “But you know what, when you’re on camera 12, 14 hours a day, and you’re at a big rallies and you’re just going off the cuff, there are going to be times you’re going to say stuff you wish you could take back. If you get a chance to talk to Governor Romney, I think he’d tell you that he wishes he could take that one back.’’

Er, shades of the 3 AM phone call. Gov. Christie has just admitted that Mitt Romney is not up to the physical challenges of running for president, much less the 24 hours a day torture of actually being President.

When a President commits a gaffe, he's usually, generally, not making fun of another person. If a President pointedly makes a personal joke about someone-- like Donald Trump-- he means it, even if it's made in jest. Indeed, one reason kings kept court jesters was that court jesters could be brutally honest with a king, something no one else could be, simply because they were amusing.

Now, I suppose we can give some berth for the fact that Romney was on the campaign trail and needed to energize his lackluster base. That's fine. That's why a smart politician hires a warm-up act, either his Vice Presidential nominee (Sarah Palin was a fine example) or another surrogate who can speak for the candidate without the responsibility of answering for him.

Bill Clinton, when Hillary was running in 2008, is a pretty good example of this. Clinton could raise the race issue-- pretty authoritatively, too-- while allowing Hillary the option to step away from his comments.

If Mitt really wanted to play the birther card, he has a myriad of folks lined up who would do just that on his behalf, some of whom haven't thoroughly disgusted the American people by now. If Mitt really did just, out of exhaustion, illness or plain mean-spiritedness, blurt it out, then he needs to take care.

After all, Obama has pretty effectively refuted that base canard, and while there is still a small but not insignificant minority (not insignificant in terms of a voting coalition) of people who cling desperately to the image of Obama as some kind of carpetbagger, a fascist Commie Muslim atheist-- go ahead, I'll wait...dum de dum dum dum, de dum, de dum...OK, get it?-- the vast majority of Americans have, either willingly or grudgingly, accepted that he's a natural born American and legitimately our President.

Conventional wisdom accepts that the convention (er, pardon the clumsy pun) is where the candidate gets to define himself. Romney, despite Christie's protests, is an enigma, and for the last month or so, has defined himself badly.

Indeed, this may have been the quietest I've ever seen an incumbent in recent memory. The Romney jokes have just written themselves from New Hampshire to England and back again. President Obama has literally be able to talk about the crabgrass and still seen his poll numbers improve.

Romney gets a bump, particularly tonight when Ann Romney speaks, humanizing her husband to "you people." Chris Christie will jab and poke President Obama and I'll be interested to read (I'm not watching. I have paint drying. More exciting.) how many blatant lies he tells.

Christie strikes me as a master politician, so I suspect he'll be long on interpretation and short on out-and-out misstatement of facts. But still, there's a lot of anger on the right and he may fall prey to his own vanity and go off the cuff.



Oh stop! You people know what I'm talking about...

A Record-Breaking Drop


Monday, August 27, 2012

The Ryan Bump

Mr. Romney was given a 28.0 percent chance of winning the Electoral College on Aug. 10, the day before he officially announced Mr. Ryan as his pick. The forecast then moved somewhat toward Mr. Romney after a series of improved polling in swing states for the newly minted Republican ticket, achieving a peak of 33.3 percent on Wednesday. It has since receded slightly to 30.6 percent, however, as Mr. Obama held leads in a number of swing state polls late last week.

These shifts could be consistent with a small vice-presidential “bounce” for Mr. Romney which has since faded — perhaps as less favorable stories for Republicans, like the comments on abortion and rape made by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, have come to dominate the news cycle.

But these are only very minor differences — the model estimates that Mr. Romney gained a net of perhaps one percentage point in the popular vote after his selection of Mr. Ryan, and has lost perhaps half a percentage point since then. Changes of that magnitude could potentially be caused by statistical noise, as well as by real shifts of opinion.

This, coupled with another interesting Veep story in the news today, tell you really all you need to know about Mitt Romney's chances this November.

He stands none. When a choice as intriguing and polarizing as Paul Ryan practically loses you votes (I claim margin of error in that pronouncement), there's something seriously wrong with your ticket, and it ain't your vice presidential choice.

Romney suffers from some of the same problems that John Kerry did in 2004: he's a likable enough guy but it's because he's worked so hard at being likable that's got him in deep trouble.

I mean, really, when your position on global climate change flip-flops inside of six months because polling says it should, you've doubled down on confusion. I think voters, even Republicans, can respect a man who stands on at least one principle that disagrees with them. He had such a magnificent financing advantage that he could have suffered on an issue that even FOX has backpedalled from.

Add to that image the whole Bain background, and Romney now comes across as a snake-oil salesman, a man who wants to build a monorail for no other reason than "Shelbyville is going to get one."

Still, it's sad that even before a single word has been uttered in Tampa to frighten away the sane folks of America, Romney has already seen his chances of winning the Presidency dwindle to next to nothing, or slightly higher than the NY Mets winning this year's World Series.
This country is due for a good talk about the future and issues, and it would be nice to hear some Republican input, rather than a "Don't Blame Me! I Voted For Kolob" chant.

The Beast Of Exmoor Is On The Move

Cryptozoologists have long heard rumours of a big cat that haunts the moors and fields of England.
Well, it seems someone might have actually gotten a photo of it, but over in Essex.

Real "Wrath Of God" Stuff

I think the Lord is trying to show Chris Christie how it's done.

The Phrase...

..."Oh no! Not again!" seems to ring true here, and it's almost precisely seven years on.
Will W circle the damage in his plane?